Senior Night win over Niagara caps another unbeaten MAAC season

By Robert Janish

Senior Sports Writer

Even with clinching the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season championship, that did not stop the women’s lacrosse team from continuing their dominance in the MAAC, just like they have for the last half decade.

On Senior Night 2017, in which five Golden Griffins played their final regular season home game, the team got off to a slow start which resulted in a 6-5 deficit against Niagara before the Griffs took a 9-7 lead into halftime.

Canisius head coach Scott Teeter said calling a timeout when his team trailed 6-5 was a way to bring back the team’s focus.

“Just to remind them that the most important thing is the lacrosse ball, that’s what this program is all about and we weren’t valuing it,” he said.

Not being able to make back-to-back plays throughout the opening half was just a lack of focus. Teeter said they’ve worked on through their systems to communicate.

“In the first half, there was really no communication,” Teeter said, “we raised our play a little bit better.”

At halftime it was important to remember that the team still had another half and there was a long way to go before reaching what they would ultimately accomplish at the end of the night.

In fact, their late first half run was only the beginning of an offensive barrage that continued well into the second half. Responsible for 11 of the next 13 goals in the game, after trailing at various points in the opening half, carried the Griffs to victory finishing a perfect 8-0 in the MAAC for the third consecutive season.

The Griffs were led by junior Erica Evans, who scored six goals and assisted on two others to give her 91 points on the season. Evans’ point total is second-best in the nation trailing Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohmiller (112). Junior Jordan Roemer added five goals and an assist in the win. Roemer scored the first Canisius goal, her 100th career point. Canisius’ high-powered offense was a force throughout the game, despite the Griffs defense wasn’t up to par at times throughout the match.

Despite the huge victory the Griffs earned over their rivals Wednesday night, fifth-year senior Ashley Bull believes in Niagara’s program and its future.

“Every year they get better and I give them credit for that,” Bull said.

Bull added that Teeter continues to raise the bar of his team every year and there is never satisfaction, only motivation to continue getting better.

“Nothing’s good enough yet because we keep raising the bar,” Bull added. “It’s all about composure and who’s going to control the ball, who’s going to value the ball. We had a slow start, but we had a couple key players who came in and helped us move forward.”

When it comes to being able to keep the team together, Teeter said it’s important to keep the team in good physical conditioning through practice by keeping it competitive, but also being smart. That includes “listening to our athletic trainer Andy [Smith], giving them a few off days, but just keep reminding them of all their hard work that they put in, all their sacrifices that they put in.”

Teeter said his message is to always remind his players they are doing the right thing to stay healthy and be ready to play once the MAAC Tournament begins next week at the Demske Sports Complex.

“We have to make sure we’re sharp,” Teeter said. “We can’t come out rusty and we can’t spot whoever our opponent is going to be a lead and think we’re going to come back. We need to be ready to go.”

The eye is not only on a MAAC Championship, but for senior Ashley Heisler the team’s focus is also on advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.

“The obvious answer is a MAAC Championship, first of all,” Heisler said. “Second of all, advancing in the NCAAs in the first round.” If there is a team, out of my four years here, this would be the team to finally reach that goal, then exceed it.”

“I would definitely have to say the same thing, definitely a MAAC Championship,” senior Shannon Pelitera said about the team’s goal for this season. “It always feels great to win that, and definitely advancing into the NCAAs just because that’s something we’ve never accomplished before and to complete a new accomplishment is always a great feeling.”

Bull added it’s a step-by-step process and that they need to take it one game at a time. Ultimately in five years, you can win MAAC championships, regular season titles, but they want to get past that first round in the NCAAs.

“We want to move this program forward and keep moving in the right direction,” Bull said. (A) MAAC championship is something we strive for, but our ultimate goal is moving past that first round, so that’s something individually. I’d love to see the program move forward and know that I was part of that.

“Individually, I’d just want to make sure I just leave everything out there, all I can and hopefully, we reach our ultimate goal.”

Next week, the Griffs will host the 2017 MAAC Championship and hope to earn their sixth MAAC championship in the last seven years. If they can accomplish the goal of continuing  their MAAC dynasty, they would look for growing their program and hopefully, win their first-ever opening round match in the NCAA Tournament.

 

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